5096 How Liverpool Got More Than th
by : Paul Grech
When Liverpool signed Fernando Torres last summer, those with a more in depth insight on the Spanish game preached caution. “True, he is a fantastically talented forward,” they said “but he’s not a clinical finisher and he’ll drift out of games especially when things aren’t going his well.” Anyone seeing in him the heir of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen should think again was the warning.
There were many in the game who held a similar opinion: Manchester United are rumoured to have turned down the chance to sign him for that same reason.
Against Newcastle a week on Saturday, we saw what they meant. By most counts he could have had a hat-trick and that’s taking into consideration just the easiest of opportunities. His wastefulness was certainly disturbing.
Yet few were bothered. That Liverpool still managed to score three goals in a surprisingly easy win obviously helped but it wasn’t just that: there is also the realisation that there is much more to Torres’ game than goals.
Watching him throughout the ninety minutes is a fascinating experience. Some of his talents are immediately apparent: speed and acceleration for instance. Looking at the goals he’s scored this season it is probably only the one he got against Chelsea that came about by beating a defender for pace.
Unlike most players similarly blessed, Torres isn’t one for pushing the ball past defenders and trying to run past them. Instead, he can run at players confident that he can dribble past them. Compared to Michael Owen, for instance, he’s much more accomplished in this regard. His second goal against Porto, when he turned and beat two defenders is ample proof of this.
Naturally, the obvious option for a defender when faced by someone who is so fast and with good feet is to try and kick him out of the game even in today’s sanitised environment. And every time he plays, Torres gets an awful kicking.
Not that you would notice this too much. For one thing, he is deceptively strong and not one to go to ground too easily. He knows when it is better for the side to go down and when he can do better by trying to stay on his feet.
It is this that has particularly endeared him to the Liverpool fans and this is a trait that is representative of his whole attitude. It is easy to see why he was made captain at Atletico Madrid at just nineteen for he is a player who, when others’ heads are going down, will increase his effort.
In that way he mirrors Steven Gerrard, as he does when closing down player. Not only is his awareness and movement off the ball particularly sharp but he also chases defenders and wins an awful lot of balls.
Of course, he will ultimately be judged by his goals but even there he isn’t doing too badly. The coolly taken goal against Bolton was his eleventh in the season and in every game he is a threat.
It may have taken some £23 million to prise him away from Madrid but with the passing of every game it’s increasingly looking like a bargain.